Small Dog Handling seminar

February 18, 2009

I wanted to put up the 2 layouts from last weekend’s small dog handling and motivation seminar in Stephentown.  This seminar went really well – my intent was to start wtih a “big dog” layout, and have everyone run a couple of short courses based on that layout, then do the same with a TDAA-sized layout.

We refined handling and worked on things using the big dog layout, because, as you’ll see  below, the TDAA layout had very similar elements of handling in it.  This way, once everyone figured out the  best way to handle the big dog challenges, they “just” had to adjust for the quicker reaction times needed for the same handling in tighter spacing.

                                                                                                                                                          On the circled sequence on the first course, for example, there’s a right turn after the first 3 jumps, with a tunnel staring at the dog if the handler isn’t careful.  So, we worked on timely turn signals for the dog on this sequence.  Look at the small dog version of this: on the circled numbers course, after #4 there’s a right turn with a tunnel in sight, this time not 17′ away but 10′ away.  In working through the timing of the first sequence, the second became much easier; a combination of pulling to the right (moving laterally away from the dog), plus slowing down and starting to turn to the right, the dogs turned nicely.
                                                                                                                                                       And, on the same course, the turn to the tunnel under the A-frame without taking either the first tunnel entrance or not turning at all and taking the next straight ahead jump again required lateral handling and deceleration.
                                                                                                                                                          On the squared numbered big dog course, there was a tricky serpentine section in the back which followed a pull to the right end of tunnel #6.  First, the pull to the right end of the tunnel was accomplished by laterally moving to the right while still running ahead confidently towards the correct tunnel entrance.  After that, the handler could either stay on the back end and handle using push-pull moves, or do a front cross after jump #7, giving the dog a tight line (almost a straight line) over the #8 and #9 jumps. 
                                                                                                                                                      Now, look at the small dog version of this section (boxed numbers) – very tricky indeed!  I ended up running Raini, a Boston Terrier; we worked on fast dog techniques in this section and I needed to demonstrate that a front cross after the #4 jump was not the only way to handle it.  This alternate handling choice was to pull laterally sharply to the right as soon as the dog was committed to jump #4, then send on to #5 and cross behind.  The tricky part here was, of course, the tight spacing, but what ended up being the biggest issue was the timing of the rear cross at #5.  Too late and the dog never was directed at jump #5; too early and the dog pulled off of the jump.  Look at my lovely color pictures of handler and dog.                      
At blue – very sharp lateral pull to the right, handler almost runs into jump #8 (teacup equipment is close together, sometimes almost a tripping hazard!).
At red – handler has hung back enough so she has room to push forward and to the left to signal a smooth rear cross, is giving a jump signal to dog in front of her body and almost is not moving at all, is preparing to cross behind.
At green – handler has just crossed behind, is running for the tunnel and is giving signal now with right hand.
It looks so simple on paper, but those that were there know that it was indeed a superior level TDAA challenge!
In conclusion – the seminar went great, I think everyone learned a lot and hopefully will use crisp handling both on big dog and small dog courses; even though we all know that small dog handlers can “get away” with sloppy handling on big dog courses, isn’t it better to give your dog the clearest handling possible?  In addition to turning in a faster course time, it’s more motivating for the dog to get timely commands from the handler.

February 14th – busy day!

February 15, 2009

Yes, my birthday was yesterday, February 14th.  And yes, I was doing dog agility all day.  First was the CDAFG (Capital District Agility Fun Group) in the morning, which I was the host for this week, at Sugar Bush Farm in Stephentown.  Then, I hosted a Small Dog Handling and Motivation seminar in the afternoon.

Thanks to Dottie for bringing the cake (and oh, you guys just had to sing, didn’t you???).  Thanks to everyone for making the day fun and memorable.

For those that don’t know what CDAFG is, it’s a local, informal group, 5 clubs participate and hold matches every few weeks at a different location.  It’s mainly for dogs to get used to  the trial atmosphere, to work in different places and on different equipment.    It’s also for people to get together and enjoy agility.  We do a standard run and game each time, and the game is always different.  Also, the courses are posted ahead of time so the people can think about the courses (gasp, even set them up and practice them if they want!) beforehand.

Here’s this past weekend’s 2 courses:



As you can see, the hearts game was really fun to run!  I did well on both courses with Jart – on Std, he went off course at #3 to the right end of the tunnel even though I hung back and turned to pull him left more quickly.  BTW, this was the most frequent off course on this course.  I wish I had just asked for the right end of this tunnel in retrospect, but oh well, it was good training for folks!  He also went off course while doing the serpentine, at #13.  I was getting him around that section fine (and yes, it was fun to watch handlers doing this part well!) but my timing on sending him to #13 was just a bit off and he went past the jump and into the left end of the tunnel.  But, no sniffies (he often does that at Sugar Bush, that dirt floor you know) and he was fast, i.e. not nervous.  In the game he aced it – I did the 5 point (A line) bonus and the left heart-half course first; I probably could’ve gotten the 10 point bonus if my momentum and excitement wouldn’t have carried me over the first line.  On the second heart-half course, the right one, I got the 10 point bonus for sending him from behind the B line.  Many people did really well on this, it was fun to watch.

Buddy – CPE 10,000 points

February 12, 2009

I just received a plaque in the mail today from CPE.  Unbeknownst to me, Buddy in his CPE career up to December 31, 2008 has earned a total of 10,010 points, so I  guess his last run at my New Year’s trial at High Goal Farm, under Eileen Keegan, got him this milestone.

What a wonderful surprise!

By comparison, in Sandy’s CPE career she got a total of 8635 points.


ADPT Rally O

February 10, 2009

Last weekend I attended a Rally Obedience trial at High Goal Farm in Greenwich. 

I had a blast doing level 3 for the first time with Buddy.  I rarely practice with him, and yet he’s always spot-on as if we practiced a lot – he makes me look good !  He was entered in level 3 all 4 runs and level 2 for the AM runs each day, and Q’ed 3 times in level 3 and 1 out of 2 in level 2.  The NQ in level 2 was my fault.  I reached towards my pocket (not even the one I give him treats from!) in the middle of the course, just before 3 married signs – halt sidestep right, halt 180 pivot, and then halt leave call front while running.  He kept looking at me as he thought I was about to give him a treat as we did the first 2 signs, and when I left him in a stay and ran away, he followed me.  He was wanting that darned treat!  In retrospect (since of course I noticed him looking at me for a treat on the 2 signs before) I should’ve treated him even though I hadn’t planned on it. 

He was really nervous on Saturday for some reason – maybe he was feeding off of me, I don’t know.  On Sunday he was much better, but particularly in the afternoon run his prey drive was in full force and he ran a few steps towards and barked at a few fast moving dogs outside the ring (someone practicing fast heeling was one trigger, I can’t remember the other).  In the past year this behavior, whether it is called prey drive or reactivity (which I think in Buddy’s case both apply) has been happening more and more.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s got arthtiris and isn’t always as comfortable physically as he used to be, or perhaps it’s just because he’s getting old and cranky…  But he sure keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure.

Jart… well, he had his usual fears, which he usually overcomes rather quickly when playing agility.  But Rally is quite new for him, and we have done very little of it – and none in public other than small classes.  The first run he pulled me halfway around the course!  There was no connection between him and me, he just wanted to pull me towards an exit or the corner of the room (where he could back against a wall and observe everyone else so nothing was behind him; he never wants anyone behind him sneaking up on him).  Our afternoon run on Saturday was much better – I stopped in the beginning a few times and refocused him, and for much of the course he was willing, happy, even his usual bouncy self (when he heels with me in practice he’s a jumping jack at times!).  We failed in the PM on the sit-walk around, he always gets up partway around to keep an eye on me; again, he doesn’t like anyone, even me behind him.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday – he was bad in the morning, much better in the afternoon.  I almost got around him on the sit-walk around in the afternoon trial, he got up just a bit at the very end.  So, no Q’s for him.  But it was a good experience for him, that’s for sure.

I wish I could get to more Rally O trials – just no time in my schedule with all the agility showing and judging I do.  It seems like all the local trials conflict with dates I’m already booked.  High Goal Farm plans on another rally trial in July, the date isn’t set yet.  I’m already booked for most of July, so hope to hear the date soon to see if I’m available!

New Dog?…

February 5, 2009


I am starting to look for a new dog.  Buddy, now almost 10 years old, will be retiring in the next year or so.  Jart is in his prime.  It’s time to get another. 

Problem is, Buddy doesn’t get along well with most dogs.  He has no social skills, and is reactive and prone to herding-type behaviors.  Plus, he suffers from a lack of confidence.


This afternoon I went to check out a dog at a local shelter.  She’s a young (less than 2 years old) Border Collie Jack Russell Terrier mix, really cute, really energetic, named Spring (what else?).  Yes, she can jump about 5′ high in a single bound! I had gone to see her already, and knew she was over the top for energy level.  But, they had said she was good with other dogs, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

It went as I had predicted it might.  Jart was fine with her, even though she was rude – always pulling to get to him, pushy in nature.  By the way, they do a great job there in letting new dogs greet – we walked the 2 dogs first on opposite sides of the road, then let them come together briefly, then apart awhile, then together again if all goes well the first time.

Then I put Jart away and got Buddy. He could sense her boldness and rudeness right away and lunged/reacted to her before we got them within 5′ of each other.  We walked them for awhile, and didn’t even let them try to get closer, knowing it wasn’t going to work.

I fear it will be very hard for me to find a suitable third for my dog pack; Buddy’s unique needs may nix lots of dogs that otherwise would do fine in my household.

Buddy needs a confident, yet not overly assertive, dog who is dog savvy and on an even keel temperament and personality-wise.  So, for those of you in the Eastern NY/Western New England area, this is a solicitation of sorts.  I am looking for a girl; size doesn’t really matter, but I don’t really want a dog over 21″ or so; and I would prefer 2 years or younger in age.  I want her to be a playmate to Jart, be a calm dog around the house, and be one of my agility dogs.

Some of you know I am also considering an Aussie or Aussie mix.  I think their personality type will be compatible with Buddy’s needs: happy-go-lucky, not bothered by much, can just hang around the house without bouncing off the walls, yet can turn it on for agility.

Basically, I’m looking for a dog with a good off switch, plus one that can snuggle with me at night; I miss that…

If anyone knows of a dog in Eastern New York or New England, please let me know.  And please pass the word about Spring, she’ll make someone an excellent agility dog!